#NCMR13: Tracking the Latest in Media Reform

Link TV's blog from the 2013 National Conference for Media Reform in Denver. We covered the latest policies and actions on how to reform corporate media, specifically as it relates to the new film airing on Link TV, "Shadows of Liberty."

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  1. Covering Race in the Time of Obama
  2. Incredible panel expertly moderated by Laura Washington of the Chicago Sun-Times and featuring Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times, Colorlines.com publisher Rinku Sen, Cuban-American writer Achy Obejas, and radio host Davey D. Their main points are summarized and paraphrased below. 
  3. - Eric Deggans has found that when people discuss race in the media, they are branded a "race-baiter" by the mainstream media, and journalists must resist the impulse to be silenced. The fractured media landscape allows you to find like minds across the world, and make alliances and build bridges. Advice to journalists: make sure your sources are diverse, and have those sources bring you into that community to hear those voices. 
  4. - Rinku Sen believes that there has been more coverage of race and race issues in the US since Obama was elected, and his election opened up space in the media and started a conversation. There has been more coverage in the demographic shift in the country, and mainstream news outlets now care that there's a voting public of color. Yet racism as defined in the press has not changed. Racism is still defined as overt and individual, not structural or institutional. A narrow definition of racism creates false equivalencies, and limits our ability to solve society's race problems. Online media allows Colorlines.com to intervene in the racial discourse, how race policy is lived, on a daily basis. 
  5. - Achy Obejas made the point that more nonwhite voices are left out of the mainstream media as newsrooms shrink and print dies. More media is available, yet there are less opportunities for voices from people of color to reach the masses. Don't surrender major media to white people and corporations. Create our own media, but don't give up on major networks.
  6. - Davey D stated that even though in 2013 there are almost infinite media outlets, people have lost focus and aren't thinking critically. Presentation is trumping content, people respond to attention-grabbing headlines and overlook the systems in play. Because people focus on attention-grabbing issues, they overlook policy and systems of racism. Dehumanizing black and brown people is big business, and hasn't changed. Even in the new media landscape, people in underserved communities still mostly experience corporate media. We need to break down the silos between communities and come together. 
  7. Independent Journalism on War, Conflict and Human Rights
  8. All-star panel moderated by Jeff Cohen, featuring Amy Goodman, Norman Solomon, Sonali Kolhatkar, and Marjorie Cohn. Some of each speaker's main points paraphrased below. 
  9. - Jeff Cohen: The decline in mainstream media can be seen in the different reactions to Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. Major newspapers fought for their right to publish the Pentagon Papers, yet none will touch Manning. 
  10. - Sonali Kolhatkar: Journalists shouldn't ask what will happen when the US leaves Afghanistan, they should investigate what is happening while the US occupies Afghanistan. President Obama broke many promises, but he kept his promise to expand the Afghan war. The nature of journalism changed when journalists became able to connect with each other easier. Web-based strategies blur the line between advocacy and journalism, and connect activists on a deeper level. 
  11. - Norman Solomon: One major political party has given faith a bad name, the other gave hope a bad name. Acceptance of perpetual war is essential to what mainstream media is about. War as an abstraction is based on two tiers of grief: theirs and ours. The media needs to have a single standard of human rights and a single standard of grief. What happens to the body politic without a functioning media is the same thing that happens to the human body without proper circulation.  
  12. - Amy Goodman: The mainstream media isn't mainstream anymore, it is extreme because it doesn't reflect or represent the country's mainstream beliefs. Independent media represents the mainstream in America today. A journalist's job is to go where the silence is. Let people speak for themselves, and tell their stories when they cannot. If American media showed the images of war, Americans would say no, war is not the answer to conflict. 
  13. - Marjorie Cohn: A fractured media landscape creates political polarization, which prevents a national consensus on war and peace. When Americans think about US citizens being killed by drone strikes, they don't think of Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, they think of white people. Sunshine is the best antidote to tyranny, and it's up to us to divulge what the government does in our name. 
  14. Is Facebook a Threat to a Free Press?
  15. Featuring Jamilah King from Colorlines, Arizona State University professor Dan Gillmor, and moderated by CUNY College of Staten Island professor C.W. Anderson. Among other things, they came to a consensus that private platforms are a threat to free press, and that regulation, market competition, and user revolt were the three main solutions. 
  16. - Dan Gillmor stressed the point that when one is forced to use a private platform (especially one with as much surveillance as Facebook) to reach a large number of people, that is a threat to free press. Facebook and Twitter are the best ways to reach a large number of people quickly. Mark Fiore won a Pulitzer Prize but couldn't get his iOS app approved. Amazon pulled purchased copies of Orwell's 1984 from Kindles (ironically did so non-ironically). When monopolies become utilities, we regulate them. Facebook is a monopoly. Yet Gillmor is wary of intervention done by people who tend to intervene badly (government).
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